Saturday, April 25, 2015


Wonderland, Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure, a new family musical created by top Chicago director Rachel Rockwell and music director Michael Mahler, is Chicago Children's Theatre's big 10th anniversary season finale. 

APRIL 22-MAY 24, 2015


Chicago's theater scene promises to get curiouser and curiouser when the powerhouse duo of Rockwell and Mahler, both making their CCT debut, boldly reimagine Lewis Carroll's books Alice in Wonderland and Through the Lookingglass

And wow! Chicago Children's Theatre has tapped a team of A-list Chicago theater artists, all sought after by the city's top stages, to help create Wonderland:  Kevin Depinet (set); Greg Hofmann (lights); Mike Tutaj (projections); Mara Blumenfeld(costumes); Lindsay Jones (sound) and Meredith Miller (props).

Who's playing the title role? Actually, two of Chicago's most dynamic young actors, Isabelle Roberts and Ariana Burks, will alternate performances as Alice. 

The cast also boasts familiar faces from Chicago's top stages including Molly CallinanLillian CastilloMatt DeitchmanJed FederRegina LeslieJake MahlerAdam MichaelsAndrew Mueller and Matthew Yee.

How can you march to the beat of your own drummer when you're still writing the song? Everyone's search for one's authentic self is at the heart ofWonderland 
book by Rachel Rockwell and Lewis Carroll, music by Michael Mahler, lyrics by Michael Mahler and Rachel Rockwell, directed by Rachel Rockwell.

Carroll's beloved, poetic tale of self-actualization is brought to life by a cast of actor/musicians who create an eclectic, live rock soundtrack as 7-1/2 year-old Alice searches for her own inner musical voice. Along the way, Alice faces challenges and fears, but meets the ultimate test in the form of the 
Jabberwocky, an insidious monster made of up of the dark thoughts and self-doubt that lurks inside of us all. In learning to believe in the impossible, Alice learns to believe in herself. Throughout her journey, the actors surround Alice in a live musical tapestry ranging from classic rock to punk to ska and even a little bit of Bollywood.

"In our version of the Alice story, Alice is much more of an active protagonist. We're talking girl power here, empowering girls, in particular, to boldly discover their true selves," said Rockwell. "Plus, Michael's score is just awesome. He is borrowing from all sorts of classic rock styles, everything from hints of Heart, Joan Jett, Oingo Boingo and Tenacious D, to Queen and the Beatles. Rock concert meets live theater as Alice reflects the vulnerabilities of all kids, and then confidently finds her own inner voice."

Meet the creators

Rachel Rockwell (co-creator, director) was the Chicago Tribune's 2012 "Chicagoan of the Year in Theatre" and Chicago Magazine's "Best Director" in 2010. Select credits include Brigadoon at the Goodman, Mary PoppinsAnnie and In the Heights at the Paramount, West Side StoryRagtime and The Sound of Music at Drury Lane Oakbrook, and Shrek The MusicalBeauty and the BeastThe Emperor's New Clothes and The Adventures of Pinocchio at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Michael Mahler (co-creator, music director) is the Jeff Award-winning composer/lyricist of HeroHow Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back?Knute Rockne: All-AmericanThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan ToomeyPainted Alice,The 9/11 ReportThe Main Street Kids Club and others.

Meet Chicago Children's Theatre's Alice(s)

Ariana Burks (Alice) is a 15-year-old, Emmy nominated actress/singer with many credits including The Black and White Ball with the FWD Theatre Project and performing with Felicia Fields in Courting the Blues at Court Theatre. Other credits include Seussical at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, A Christmas Carol at the Goodman, Hairspray at Drury Lane Oakbrook (Jeff Nominated), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Broadway Playhouse, The Nutcracker at Jedlicka Performing Arts Center, Aunt Nancy and the Doggie Tales at The Cornservatory and Laika's Coffin with Redmoon Theater. Her film and TV credits include Chicago Fire on NBC, Prank Stars on the Disney Channel and The Jr. Cuisine Cooking Show (Emmy Nominated) on PBS. She is a member of the youth ensemble at Lookingglass Theatre.

Isabelle Roberts (Alice), a 12-year-old Glencoe seventh grader, has been seen as Brigitta in The Sound of Music at Lyric Opera, Young Fiona in Shrek the Musical at Northwestern University, Clarice in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Broadway Playhouse, Mary Claire Daugherty in The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater and Theo in Pippin at The Music Theater Company. She performed at the 2013 Chicago Thanksgiving Day parade and the 2012 Equity Jeff Awards. At New Trier High School she was in Beauty and the Beast and

Tickets are $10-$38. Programs include fun activities for kids and lessons drawn from the themes of the play. Visit or call (872) 222-9555 for tickets and information. 

Email or call (773) 227-0180 x 13 to learn about deeply discounted group rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting groups. 

Note:  Groups can book an ASL-interpreted or Autism-Friendly performance by calling (773) 227-0180 x 13 with a minimum two-week notice.

Chicago Children's Theatre performs at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood steps from the Magnificent Mile. Via public transit, the Ruth Page is a short walk from the CTA Red Line Clark/Division and Chicago stops, and the Clark, Broadway, Division and Chicago Avenue bus lines. Street parking is available, and the Ruth Page offers discounted garage parking with ticket validation at 1250 N. Dearborn and 1030 N. State. Nearby family-friendly restaurants include Epic Burger (40 E. Pearson), Lou Malnati's  (1120 N. State), The 3rd Coast (1260 N. Dearborn) and Dave and Busters (1030 N. Clark). 

About Chicago Children's Theatre

Chicago Children's Theatre ( focuses on the production of first-rate children's theatre in Chicago, with top writing, performing and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise. 

Since the company was launched in 2005, Chicago Children's Theatre has presented the world premieres of The Selfish GiantThe Hundred DressesJackie and MeDot and ZiggyThe Houdini BoxThe Elephant and The Whale (in association with Redmoon), Mr. Chickee's Funny Money and Leo Lionni's Frederick.

Chicago Children's Theatre aspires to enrich our community through diverse and significant theatrical and educational programming that engages and inspires the child in all of us. The company strives to provide affordable and accessible theatre for families and area school children. To enhance the impact of any given production's themes, Chicago Children's Theatre offers educational materials and programs for families and educators. 

Led by Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, the company is supported by a committed Artistic Council of Chicago-based actors, directors, musicians and designers and a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business. Officers include David Saltiel, President; Jacqueline Tilton, Vice Chair;Lynn Lockwood Murphy, Vice Chair and Secretary; and David Chung, Treasurer. 

Chicago Children's Theatre is sponsored in part by ComEdGoldman Sachs GivesJPMorgan Chase and Target


  1. Cheshire Cat!!!

    Jane Zawadowski!

  2. Congrats @Jane! I will be emailing you info so check your inbox!